Last week, there were some rumblings about Microsoft’s next console that will replace the Xbox 360. Some of the rumours and whispers floating around include: Microsoft’s next console will be six times more powerful than the current Xbox 360; Kinect tasks will be handled on the circuit board; Microsoft will incorporate technology to prevent the new console from playing used games. In the lyrics of theatrical rock star Meat Loaf, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”
The first two rumours sound like legitimate early product info-drops, but the third rumour concerning used games made me sit up and take notice. Of all of the things to get people talking about the sequel to the Xbox 360, why would you risk getting your user base up in arms? There are two reasons in my mind why MSFT would do this: One, to get feedback on the issue of a “no used games” console; two, to get the word out that the next generation of Xbox won’t play used games so that in a year’s time, it’s old news.
Let’s just chat for a minute about the significance of used games. In the world of video games, “used games” are a bane and a boon. Used games are a bane for the people who make your favorite video games as they receive $0.00 on every used game that is sold. They are a boon for game retailers because the sale of used games is how they make a significant amount of their money.
There are arguments on both sides of the used game issue. Game makers say that it is not fair that they don’t receive any money when a used game is sold. Other people use the resale of furniture as an example of the manufacturer not getting paid when their item is sold on the secondary market. There is merit that can be found on both sides of the issue. Let me just tell you about my experience.
I am what you would call an “average gamer.” I do own an Xbox 360 and 75% of the games in my collection I have purchased used. There is a lot of thought that goes into purchasing a new game. I have to be “all-in” before I slap down $60 on a new release. But when we’re talking about $10 to $20 for a used game, I am more inclined to try new things. Here are two examples of how used games were able to convert me into buying new games, “Mass Effect” and “Assassin’s Creed.” When these two games were fresh on the market, I looked them over but because they didn’t have the words “Halo” or “Madden” in them, I was hesitant to buy them new. Fast forward a year and both of these titles were just under $20. Combine the used price with recommendations from my gaming friends and these two games were added to my collection. After playing through “Mass Effect” and “Assassin’s Creed,” it sold me on their respective franchises and I have purchased their sequels new the day they are released. There were other titles that I purchased used that were not as rewarding. But I don’t feel resentment because I’m not out a full $60. These are just my personal experiences but I know that others have shared them too.
There is a third reason that the rumour of a no-used-game console was leaked. This could be a warning “shot across the bow” to game retailers to give game makers a slice of the used games pie. This could be just the first of what could be a very big power shift in the video game realm.